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Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

  • 1.  Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-27-2020 18:12
    My husband had a triple bypass on Saturday 25 July -- he is still in ICU and they are not letting me visit him. I respect the COVID restrictions however today I found out that he's still confused from the medications they've had him on. They did a CT scan and it was negative. But I found all this out after the fact -- I called the unit several times and when I finally got through to his nurse for an update that's when she told me about his confusion and CT scan. I'm really frustrated about not being able to be onsite and I feel like not having a familiar face is impeding his progress.

    I'm still grappling with all of this. This surgery came about completely unexpected. We went to the ER Thursday morning last week thinking he had some chest pains that were probably due to stress only to find out that he had three critical arteries blocked and needed surgery right away.

    I'm dealing with the shock and awe of that and now feeling completely in the dark about his recovery. I understand the complications of COVID and I respect the restrictions, quarantine, masks, everything. I'm compliant 100% but I don't understand how being in unfamiliar surroundings with no one there to advocate for him is helping him.

    Destiny Best

  • 2.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-27-2020 19:07
    It must be really difficult not to be able to be with your husband during this.  I would think that a familiar face would be beneficial if he is confused after his procedure.  My husband was allowed to be with me in the ER, recovery after my emergency catheterization, and Cardiac ICU as I recovered....with a mask, of course, but the hospital never questioned him being by my side.  My heart attack was 2 months ago (May 22nd)....but I had another catheterization/stent placement on June 20th and then ended up back in the ER a week later for issues and he was also allowed with me on those occasions.  We are in Charleston, SC, one of the states that has seen cases ramping up, so I don't know if that would still be allowed.  Where are you located?

    Tracy Rhodes
    Charleston SC

  • 3.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-28-2020 13:46
    I'm in San Jose, CA -- Santa Clara County. Our COVID rate was much higher back when it all started but we've been in decline while Southern California has been on a steep incline.

    Destiny Best

  • 4.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-28-2020 06:11
    Hi Destiny,

    I heard a similar story to yours-from my own wife.  Two and a half years ago, I had a heart attack, immediately followed by emergency quintuple bypass surgery followed immediately by bacterial pneumonia from the ventilator and a two week medically induced coma.  There was no Covid, then, but there was plenty of influenza, which my wife caught the day of my surgery, followed by my then 17 year old daughter catching it.  My wife told me how incredibly frustrating it was trying to get information over the phone, especially since my case was complicated by the pneumonia.  Eventually, she had her friend's cardiologist husband call my doctor, with my wife on the line, to find out what was happening.

    And I was no help.  When they finally got me off the ventilator and my wife was finally allowed to visit, while I knew that I was in a hospital, I was convinced that the hospital was in the Bahamas (we were in New Jersey) and I was helping the hospital administrator, who also was my surgeon and former shipmate in the Navy (I was never in the Navy), with a legal problem (I am actually a lawyer).  So, yeah, I was pretty confused, and remained confused for about a week or so after awakening.  But I'm here to tell you that things did rapidly improve and, within three months, I was back at work and at my gym, lifting weights, and living a normal life again.  It will get better for you and your husband.  And post bypass confusion is normal.  You and your husband will soon be having some laughs over dinner when he is able to tell you about his confused adventures.  As my wife said, "Great.  I was dealing with influenza, nor'easters, no information while you were in the Bahamas!"

    Destiny, all the best to you and your husband.  Please keep us posted.


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 5.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-28-2020 11:24
    Hello Destiny,
    We are all sorry you are not able to be with your husband. This is a very confusing and frightening situation for you right now.
    If you have read what Ira Ried just said about the confusion he had, then you will understand this is normal after this type of surgery. 
    I too went to the ER on a Friday night and a couple of days later I had a 4 way bypass and was in the ICU. My wife was allowed to be with me there at the time and she can tell you the things that were coming out of my mouth did not make any sense. I saw faces coming out of the walls and ceiling of the room. Crazy stuff!!
    I spoke to another patient later and he told me he was seeing bats flying around his room and they had red wing tips. �� 
    I would not get concerned about the confusion at this point in time. The meds they put us on really do a job on the brain while we are recovering. My delusions and dreams faded as the pain meds were decreased. 
    The best thing you can do at this point is to read about his recovery process and see what to expect. 
    Also you are at the right spot to get first hand information from other caregivers like yourself on the things they went through as well. Also folks like Ira and myself who were also a little nuts after our surgery. The bigger the surgery the bigger the delusions. That is because the larger the dose of pain meds were given. 
    You also need to rest and keep yourself healthy. Remember you will be of no use to yourself or your husband if you get run down. We are all here for you and you can go back and read other folks reports and questions on this site.
    Like Ira said it does get better. Take care 

    Richard Short 
    Chapter 395

  • 6.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-28-2020 11:30
    dear Destiny.
    i cant imagine the nightmare of worry and frustration you are going through... perhaps a nurse could facetime with you to see and talk to your husband . maybe you could deliver a framed photo of you and family to your husband for them to show him. Drawings from the family kids might be allowed. 8 years ago when i was in heart Intensive care, these things helped me.
    the hospital staff is not ignoring you.. they are filling in for you who isn’t allowed to he there too... making sure he is comfortable.
    please let family and friends help you.

    Marilyn B. Rosenhouse
    Mobile: (214)850-0655

  • 7.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-28-2020 14:03
    Thank you for your meaningful responses. I'm serious, they've really helped.

    This morning the nurse initiated FaceTime on my husband's phone so he could see and talk with me. He recognized who I was and he could respond with monosyllables but he was still very sleepy and had this far away look in his eyes.

    I'm not an emotional person, I'm pretty stoic -- but seeing him like this broke me. Based on the responses I'm reading here, I'm understanding now that confusion is not uncommon. I don't know anyone else who has gone through this, so I had no baseline until I read this thread.

    My concern is that he's a complete lightweight when it comes to drugs and I can imagine that his system is overwhelmed. After the FaceTime, I spoke with the PA for his surgeon who was onsite, and she agreed that he could be metabolizing the drugs slower, and that it's also a lot for his system. However, she said he's markedly improved since yesterday.

    It's really hard for me to think about anything else -- I feel like I'm in a holding pattern until he gets through this.

    Destiny Best

  • 8.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-29-2020 22:41

    Hi there. First off, sending all the good vibes for a quick recovery. 

    next - my partner could not be with me during my recent open heart surgery and really struggled. She found that calling the nurse every 4 hours or so for updates really helped. She found out when shift change was and asked how long after she should reach out for an update (right at shift change is too hectic). For my hospital, it was about 90 minutes after the change. Even though I had different nurses each time, they got to know her and provided good updates. 

    My surgeon also had nurse practitioners who work with him and were good sources of info about once a day. 

    Finally - the nurses and staff really did take amazing care of me. I felt super attended to at all times. In ICU they came and checked every hour (then it was every 4 in the step-down unit). It sucked to be alone - but I wasn't truly with the care I received. Plus FaceTime really helped. 

    My hope is that he'll be home before you know it. My partner found there was a bit of home prep to be done that helped occupy her mind.

    Best wishes to you both!

    Jillian Henninger

  • 9.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 07-30-2020 18:12
    Good afternoon all.
    I just want to add a little helpful information. I had my CABG x 4 way back 1996 and a final adjustment  CABG X 2 in 2004.
    I'm much more in tune to think about what I can do tomorrow in the way of fun and work on enjoying what I can do.

    In the ICU in Step down when you get home. It takes you to a different place. With all the apps, with  all the phone stuff    Jazz-- .Latin  -- Country western - Opera. Go on vacation in your mind --Oldies-- go down memory lane.
    My walkman doesn't work any more and  33.3 long play vinyls are too big to play on your bed, Go enjoy and you won't hear all those beeping sounds.
    I -Tunes---- Spotify--- ask the kids for help as needed.

    Great that we are all still here and hopefully with a long way still to go.
    Best regards,
    David Rosen   M H #206  JFK Hospital-- Atlantis, Fla.

  • 10.  RE: Confusion while in ICU after bypass surgery

    Posted 08-10-2020 20:29
    This is so much more frightening for family than us patients. We know what we are feeling and experiencing while you must deal with all the horrific things your mind can conjur up. Hang in, as everybody said this is pretty normal.

    I was incarcerated in the ICU for 5 weeks and kept under heavy sedation a good portion of that time. Believe it or not, I was so out of it I actually thought my nurses were attractive...go figure.

    Seriously, I know how hard this is but have patience. Your husbsnd is in good hands and they will do everything to get him back to you. It's amazing what we can withstand, have faith. We're here for you.